Companion animals have the ability to touch our lives in amazing ways. Some provide us with great comfort at tiring times, or simply a reawakening after a long day at work. Others may even go so far as to save our lives. Still others, like Esther, can change us in profound ways and open up our eyes to a world outside ourselves.

However, Esther is not exactly your typical companion animal – she’s almost a full-size pig at 375 pounds and is still growing.

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Her guardians, Steve and Derek, never expected to be dads to a full-grown pig. In fact, they believed they were taking in a “mini pig” from a friend who could no longer care for her.

When they received her in August 2012, they were told she was six months old already and she was indeed still quite small, seemingly “mini,” but soon realized that she wasn’t going to stay this way after her first vet appointment.

During this first visit, their veterinarian pointed out that Esther had a short tail — a common characteristic of farmed pigs who have gone through a painful tail docking process whereby a portion of their tails are cut off with a knife or pliers often without anesthesia.

“It was pretty obvious to trained eyes that we had been duped,” Steve tells OGP.

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And so began Esther’s “growth chart,” as Steve says, documenting how she grew over the next few months, and with the vet they waited and watched.

“It was a scary time that’s for sure. We still aren’t sure when she’ll stop growing … [but] at this point it doesn’t really matter to us as long as she’s happy and healthy. We’ve accepted the fact that we’ll need to move ASAP and we’re ok with that.”

Naturally, the first few months with Esther were tough as Steve and Derek not only had to figure out how to take proper care of a soon-to-be-full-size pig but also how to care for a baby animal. Steve tells OGP that the biggest challenge was potty training, but once she got the hang of it, and her house manners followed, they were able to leave her unattended in parts of the house.

“It blows our minds to see how ‘normal’ she is in the house. If you had told either of us that we’d have a pig like Esther in the house a few years ago, we would’ve thought you were absolutely nuts,” Steve says.

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Amazingly, Esther has gotten along well with Steve and Derek’s other household companions, too – their two cats and two rescue dogs.

With the dogs, Steve tells us that they act “like a pack.”

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“She goes outside with them, [they] cuddle together and come for their morning ‘treats’ together. She even sits and waits for hers. She has become very much part of the whole family,” he says.

Steve and Derek even started a Facebook page for her, which was originally intended to be for family and friends. However, in no time, Esther became famous and now has over 52,000 followers.

While Esther is certainly adorable, her fame is not attributed to her looks alone. It is her story that has inspired people – a story which has forced many to examine their choices. She is showing the world that pigs are not products of pork or bacon, as so many only know them as. Rather, pigs are fully sentient and intelligent beings capable of love and affection just like our dogs and cats.

Since adopting Esther, Steve and Derek have gone vegan, realizing that they just can’t support the meat industry anymore, and they have plans to open up their very own farm sanctuary soon too, as they want to provide a “safe haven for rescued commercial farm animals and to give them the life they deserve.”

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“We picture Esther in those barns and imagine the horror she would experience. We see her emotions and personality, which makes it even harder to ignore what happens behind the walls of those barns,” Steve tells OGP.

Their view of pigs –and of all animals that are used by humans — has shifted since Esther has become a part of their lives.

“We have always been animal lovers, or so we thought anyway but we were forgetting a few. Commercial farm animals are no different than our typical household pets. The only difference is perception. Esther made us realize the suffering and pain we inflict on these poor animals for our own selfish wants … you need to know that every single one of these animals suffered their entire lives for you … It’s time to wake up and realize what we’re doing.”

Even some of Esther’s Facebook followers have given up on pork and other meat products after hearing her story, which they express in writing via comments on her Facebook wall and photos.

Indeed, it seems that Ester is taking on the world, and living up to her name.

Originally, Steve and Derek chose to call her “Esther” since it’s a friendly and traditional name. The “Wonder Pig” part came later after everyone kept saying “wonder when she’ll stop growing,” Steve tells OGP, laughing. However, Steve and Derek later learned that Esther translates to “star” in another language and that it was a name of a queen who “led her subjects to safety when they were about to be killed.”

“We couldn’t believe the coincidence as that’s exactly what Esther has become,” Steve says. “Esther came to us with a purpose, she survived for a reason and it’s finally clear. She’s here to be a shining star of hope for all of us who know we can do better.  She’s here to bring awareness to the suffering of her species and dare we say…lead them away from the massacre we created for them. She’s a pig with a purpose … One person and one mind at a time, she’s changing the world. ”

Through her story, Steve and Derek hope to give “your food a face,” wanting people to consider Esther and her family members when shopping or dining out.

“We need to wake up and see the big picture, we’re killing ourselves, our animals and our planet, it’s time for change. We owe it to ourselves and more importantly, our animals.”

Check out some photos of Esther the Wonder Pig below!

Esther the Wonder Pig / Facebook

Esther the Wonder Pig / Facebook

Esther the Wonder Pig / Facebook

Esther the Wonder Pig / Facebook

Esther the Wonder Pig / Facebook

Esther the Wonder Pig / Facebook

Esther the Wonder Pig / Facebook

Esther the Wonder Pig / Facebook

Esther the Wonder Pig / Facebook

Esther the Wonder Pig / Facebook

For more information about Esther, check out her website, for more photos, visit Facebook, and for videos, head on over to her YouTube channel.

Lead image source: Esther the Wonder Pig / Facebook